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English Literature vs. Literature in English: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 20, 2024
English Literature refers to works originally written in English, while Literature in English includes all literary works written or translated into English.

Key Differences

English Literature is composed originally in English, reflecting the culture and history of English-speaking regions. Literature in English, however, encompasses works globally, originally written in any language but available in English translation or rendition.
English Literature is often tied to the cultural and historical context of English-speaking countries, especially the UK and the US. In contrast, Literature in English presents a diverse cultural spectrum, offering insights into various cultures worldwide through translations into English.
The canon of English Literature is heavily influenced by British and American authors, shaping its themes and styles. Literature in English, however, includes diverse literary traditions, styles, and themes from around the world, broadening its scope beyond the English-speaking world.
In academics, English Literature courses typically focus on works by English-speaking authors, exploring their linguistic and stylistic elements. Courses on Literature in English, however, offer a more global perspective, analyzing translated works alongside English originals.
English Literature predominantly represents the viewpoints and experiences of English-speaking authors. Literature in English, by including translations, offers a more inclusive and diverse range of perspectives, encompassing global voices and narratives.

Comparison Chart

Language of Origin

Originally written in English
Works in any language, available in English

Cultural Representation

Reflects English-speaking cultures
Represents global cultures

Authors and Influence

Mainly British and American authors
Authors from various linguistic and cultural backgrounds

Academic Study

Focuses on English linguistic and stylistic traits
Includes study of translations and global literary trends

Scope and Diversity

Limited to English-speaking world
Encompasses a broader, more diverse range of perspectives

English Literature and Literature in English Definitions

English Literature

Literature primarily written in the English language.
The Romantic era was a significant period in English Literature.

Literature in English

Broadens the scope of literary study beyond English-speaking authors.
Studying Literature in English helps understand different cultural narratives.

English Literature

Literature that has influenced the English-speaking literary canon.
Jane Austen's novels are staples in the study of English Literature.

Literature in English

Encompasses global literary works translated into English.
Literature in English includes masterpieces from all over the world.

English Literature

Works that reflect the culture and history of the English-speaking world.
English Literature often explores themes like the British colonial experience.

Literature in English

A study of diverse literary traditions through English translations.
Her course on Literature in English covered authors from Japan to Brazil.

English Literature

A field of study focusing on English-written texts.
She majored in English Literature at university.

Literature in English

Literary works available in English translation.
Tolstoy's works are widely read as Literature in English.

English Literature

Literature originating from English-speaking countries.
Shakespeare is a renowned figure in English Literature.

Literature in English

Works originally in other languages, but read in English.
Gabriel García Márquez's novels are popular as Literature in English.


Why is English Literature important?

It offers insights into the culture, history, and values of English-speaking societies.

Can English Literature include translated works?

Typically, no; it focuses on works originally written in English.

What does Literature in English mean?

It includes all literary works written in or translated into English, from any global origin.

What is English Literature?

Literature originally written in the English language, often reflecting English-speaking cultures.

What types of works are in Literature in English?

It encompasses all genres, including translated novels, poetry, and plays.

How does one study English Literature?

Through analyzing texts for themes, style, historical context, and language.

How does Literature in English contribute to global understanding?

It brings diverse global narratives and cultures to a wider audience through English.

What benefits does reading Literature in English offer?

Exposure to diverse perspectives and understanding of global narratives.

What skills does studying Literature in English develop?

Critical thinking, cultural awareness, comparative analysis, and empathy.

Can Literature in English change perceptions?

Yes, it can broaden understanding and challenge stereotypes.

Is English Literature only from the UK?

No, it includes works from all English-speaking countries.

Do you need to know other languages for Literature in English?

Not necessarily; translations allow access to non-English works.

Who are some key authors in English Literature?

Authors like William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Virginia Woolf are pivotal.

Are translations a part of Literature in English courses?

Yes, translations are integral to Literature in English studies.

Can Literature in English help in learning other cultures?

Yes, it provides access to various cultural and literary traditions through translation.

How does Literature in English impact global literacy?

It enhances global literacy by making world literature accessible in English.

How has English Literature evolved?

It has expanded to include postcolonial, feminist, and diverse voices.

Is English Literature diverse in representation?

Historically less so, but modern English Literature is becoming more inclusive.

Does English Literature include American authors?

Yes, American authors are a significant part of English Literature.

What impact does English Literature have on language?

It enriches and evolves the English language through diverse narratives.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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